Boris Johnson Claims Putin Threatened Missile Strike On U.K. – Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was ousted from office by the Parliamentary Conservative Party, claimed during a BBC documentary that Russian President Vladimir Putin once threatened the United Kingdom with a missile strike ahead of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The former British PM said that Putin claimed a strike would “only take a minute” and that Putin made the comment after he was warned that invading Ukraine would lead to “utter catastrophe.” Johnson said he told the Russian president that going ahead with the invasion, following months of Russian military activity on the border, would lead the massive sanctions from the West and more NATO troops stationed on the border with Ukraine.
“He threatened me at one point, and he said, ‘Boris, I don’t want to hurt you but, with a missile, it would only take a minute’ or something like that…Jolly,” Johnson said.
Was Putin Serious?
One world leader threatening another is not exactly new.
In March last year, former lawyer to President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, claimed that Trump once told the Russian president that he would drop bombs on Russian churches if Russia were to invade Ukraine.
Giuliani insisted that the former president’s approach to Putin was not only to praise him in public, but also to warn the Russian president of the dire consequences that would follow if he chose to go ahead with rumored plans to invade Ukraine.
“So, he has a meeting with Putin and he tells him, they’re talking about Ukraine and he says, ‘Vladimir, you shouldn’t, like, attack Ukraine, because then I’m gonna…well, I never liked those big, what are those things you’ve got in Moscow? Those big bubbles, those big gold bubbles?’” Giuliani said.
“‘I never liked those things, so, I’m going to have to blow them up,’” Giuliani also said, paraphrasing the former president.
When Putin told Trump that he was talking about churches, Trump reportedly called Putin’s bluff, telling him he doesn’t believe that he cares about churches.
If that’s the way the former leader of the United States, the most powerful democracy in the world, talks to the president of Russia, then Putin’s comments to the British prime minister suddenly seem less scandalous.
Moscow Denies It
While the comments seem plausible, the Kremlin was quick to deny Boris Johnson’s claim.
Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported on January 30 that Dmitry Peskov, President Putin’s press secretary, denied the allegations. Peskov appeared to take care, however, to avoid explicitly calling the former British prime minister a liar, arguing that he perhaps didn’t understand what the Russian president was saying.
“No, what Mr. Johnson said is not true, or rather, it is a lie,” Peskov said. “And moreover, I will say whether this is either a deliberate lie, then, probably, the question for what purpose he chose this version of the presentation, or it was unconscious and in fact he did not understand what President Putin was talking to him about. Then it becomes a little uncomfortable for the interlocutors of our president.”
Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.